Public opinion can take off like a runaway train once it gets going. President Donald Trump, already polling lower than any of his predecessors in his first year, might soon be hearing the hoofbeats of history. At 32 percent in the most recent Pew and Monmouth polls, he is perilously close to what most historians and political scientists say is a tipping point of 30 percent, below which a president can no longer effectively lead. President Nixon was at 22 percent when he resigned in August of 1974 and Republican Party affiliation had dropped to 18 percent, recalls Reagan historian Craig Shirley. “Going below 30 percent kept Truman from seeking another term and going below 30 percent eventually drove Nixon out of office,” he says. “In the modern era, beginning with FDR, presidents get into trouble when they fall below 30.”

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